Authorship, plagiarism and cooperation in higher education
Conclusions from experiences with Asian cultures and learning environments
One leading question of this paper is, whether the postulate of true authorship can be generally applied to all learning and research environments in higher education. Experience shows at least that this postulate has no global reach. I am referring to the cultures and traditions in East Asia where other concepts of authorship and intellectual property rights exist. However, Western standards of ethical behaviour in science demand academic integrity everywhere in order to fight the violation of intellectual property and copy rights known as plagiarism and piracy. This generalized claim does not consider the diversity of epistemic traditions which can be also found in Western history. Moreover, it seems to ignore the collaborative background of knowledge construction. This paper aims to contribute to the ethical discussions with another than a moralistic view at the problem. In the first place it has to be asked how the idea of authorship and its protection by intellectual property laws became crucial. It will be necessary to focus on the historical background of intellectual property and how it gained importance in the West and in the East. Findings regarding differences in the adoption of this idea due to diversity in Asian culture and tradition have to be discussed. Experiences in the learning environment of East Asian higher education institutions will be confronted with the general demand for authentic authorship in academia. It has to be asked if the function of protected intellectual property opposes cooperative structures in higher education. The discussion on educational issues leads to the question what role protected authorship plays today in academic research.
Keywords: plagiarism, intellectual property rights, authorship, open access, originality, culture, cooperation, learning environment
Published online: 18 April 2014
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